The big news today is that Microsoft revealed, at the E3 gaming convention this morning, that it plans to bow an upgraded Xbox One S in August for just $299 that will include “4K Ultra HD Video and Blu-ray” support and “HDR gaming” support. Now... the company is being a little cagey in their wording as to whether or not the unit will support actual UHD Blu-ray Discs. And I’m betting there’s a reason for that: Sony is also being cagey as to whether or not their forthcoming PS4 (which will also support 4K and HDR) will include Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc support. Here’s the thing: I’ve confirmed with Sony that the company is working on their own 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, probably for release later this year. But details remain sketchy. It could very well be that the upgraded PS4 is meant to be their mainstream UHD BD player, as was the case with the PS3 before it. Because they’re being so vague, Microsoft is too. Both companies want to be competitive with their price point. Keep in mind that the entry level price for UHD BD is already just $399. It will be interesting to see what happens in the months ahead.
UPDATE: We now have this text from Microsoft’s own pre-order page for the unit:
“Introducing the new Xbox One S. Play the greatest games lineup, including Xbox 360 classics, on a 40% smaller console. Experience richer, more luminous colors in games and video with High Dynamic Range. Stream 4K video on Netflix and Amazon Video, and watch UHD Blu-ray movies in stunning 4K Ultra HD. Then get the enhanced comfort and feel of the new Xbox Wireless Controller, featuring textured grip and Bluetooth.”
UPDATE ON PRICING: It’s $399 for the 2 TB version launching in August, and $299 for the 500 GB version in December.
Also this morning, we have an update for you on Madman Entertainment’s forthcoming Region B Blu-ray release of Universal’s Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV series (due on 8/17). Madman tells us they’ve committed to releasing the best possible set they can afford to, given the high production costs and tight margins they face, which is why this is a limited release. This isn’t a full digital restoration – Universal sadly hasn’t paid to do one, only to scan the original episodes in HD. But Madmen tells us that the episodes still look great overall. There’s just the occasional scratch and blemish to contend with. They unfortunately don’t have the budget to approach Gil Gerard and Erin Gray to record new interviews and commentary, though they would certainly have loved to, but they are working to put together “the best collection possible using the materials available.” Universal’s HD scans were apparently done with TV syndication in mind only, so the theatrical film and feature-length episodes aren’t yet available in HD. As such, the Blu-ray will include all 39 episodes (in the original 4x3 aspect ratio) with LPCM 2.0 audio, and the following extras:
- Bonus Theatrical Version of the Pilot episode (in Standard Definition)
- Bonus Feature-length version of Flight of the War Witch (in Standard Definition)
- Ending and Opening sequences for 2-part version of Awakening
- Bonus Syndicated 2-part version of Journey to Oasis (in HD)
- Opening Titles without narration
- Textless Opening and Closing Titles
- Isolated Music & Effects Audio Track on each episode
- Bonus A3 double-sided poster of Gil Gerard and Erin Gray
- Easter Eggs include Textless “in show” footage for most episodes
Here’s what the packaging will look like (click to visit the Madman Entertainment pre-order page)...
Meanwhile, the Region 4 DVD version will include all 39 episodes (in the original 4x3 aspect ratio) with LPCM 2.0 audio, and the following:
- Bonus disc with the Theatrical Version of the Pilot episode
- Opening titles without narration
- Textless Opening and Closing titles
All right, time to get back to work on reviews. We’ll get them up as fast as we can, time permitting. Stay tuned...
- Bill Hunt (@BillHuntBits)